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Nat Rev Urol. 2013 Apr;10(4):219-26. doi: 10.1038/nrurol.2013.43. Epub 2013 Mar 12.

Zinc and zinc transporters in prostate carcinogenesis.

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Fox Chase Cancer Center, Department of Surgical Oncology, Philadelphia, PA 19111-2497, USA.


The healthy human prostate accumulates the highest level of zinc of any soft tissue in the body. This unique property is retained in BPH, but is lost in prostatic malignancy, which implicates changes in zinc and its transporters in carcinogenesis. Indeed, zinc concentrations diminish early in the course of prostate carcinogenesis, preceding histopathological changes, and continue to decline during progression toward castration-resistant disease. Numerous studies suggest that increased zinc intake might protect against progression of prostatic malignancy. In spite of increased dietary intake, zinc accumulation might be limited by the diminished expression of zinc uptake transporters, resulting in decreased intratumoural zinc levels. This finding can explain the conflicting results of various epidemiological studies evaluating the role of zinc supplementation on primary and secondary prostate cancer prevention. Overall, more research into the mechanisms of zinc homeostasis are needed to fully understand its impact on prostate carcinogenesis. Only then can the potential of zinc and zinc transport proteins be harnessed in the diagnosis and treatment of men with prostate cancer.

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